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Choosing the Right Retailer

Last updated on August 19, 2020

Complicating the "where to buy" question is the variety of types of retailers that sell beds, online and in stores. Why so many? Mattresses are a high-margin item, meaning stores can make more profit on mattresses than on, say, televisions or coffee makers. (Here's more on the logic behind mattress pricing.)

If you're shopping in person, you have the best chance to negotiate for a lower price and extras like free pillows or a mattress protector. In mattress stores, salespeople work on commission, and often get extra bonuses from manufacturers for selling certain models. That explains why mattress salespeople stick to you like glue once you're in a store, but it also means they should be knowledgeable about the models they sell.

At general retailers, the experience will likely be much more hands-off, and the level of salesperson knowledge will vary widely. You won't be able to negotiate at national chains like Ikea or Walmart, of course, but you might be able to at smaller furniture stores.

About those salespeople...
Everyone wants a friendly, knowledgeable salesperson that can help guide you through the numerous choices. In general, mattress salespeople have gotten a bit better about limiting the overly aggressive sales tactics for which they were once known. However, if you find one who "missed the memo" on this, we suggest you take your business elsewhere.

Shopping online saves you from negotiation (the price online is the price you'll pay), and from a salesperson trailing you around the store. But aside from picking up the phone, you're pretty much on your own to explore mattresses and features.

In our experience, we notice that most mattress shoppers are doing a bit of both -- checking out what's in stores, but also exploring online. About 70% of shoppers still buy in a physical store.

Prior to your purchase, you want:

  • Honest salespeople that don't make you feel uncomfortable
  • Clearly defined store policies
  • Convenient (preferably free) delivery

After the sale, you want a store with:

  • Good customer service to support your purchase
  • A place to get answers to your questions
  • Assistance with warranty claims

Store Policies to Consider

Whether shopping in a store or online, delivery fees, returns policies, and financing can make a difference in the price you ultimately pay, and how happy you are with your purchase.

Delivery & Setup

As anyone can attest who has driven with a mattress tied to the roof of a car, delivery is a valuable service. Retailers will sometimes offer free delivery of your new bed, but others charge upwards of $100, particularly if the mattress is coming from outside your local area. If your schedule is constrained, it may be worth asking whether they deliver 7 days a week, and whether they can guarantee a specific delivery time. Most online stores ship via UPS or FedEx, so you'll get a tracking number.

Some stores also provide complete in-home setup (called white glove service) of your new bed and/or frame. Naturally, this can be especially valuable if you are purchasing a more complicated bedding product like an air bed, water bed, or adjustable bed. Local retailers often offer this service with delivery at no extra charge, while online retailers frequently charge extra for this, or don't offer it at all. 

Similarly, removal of your old bed is another key service to consider, especially now that some local landfills have begun to charge fees to residents for mattress disposal. Sometimes local stores will do this for no additional charge, while others charge a nominal fee (typically $50 or less). With online retailers, removal of your old mattress is only offered as an option with white glove service.

Return Policy

Look for stores that will give you the opportunity to exchange or return the bed if you are not satisfied after sleeping on it at home for a period of time (sometimes referred to as a "Comfort Guarantee"). The best return policies in local stores offer a period of 30-60 days, but even 2 weeks should generally be sufficient. That said, some stores actually require that you sleep on the bed for a minimum amount of time (e.g. 30 days) before they will accept a return. Be aware that many stores will charge a restocking fee for returns, which covers their costs of delivering the bed, picking it up, re-covering it, etc. Ask to see the return policy in writing to make sure you understand it in detail.

For online mattress brands like Brooklyn Bedding, Purple, and the like, very long trial periods of 100 or 120 days are the norm, with a full refund should you decide to return the bed. The company will either pick it up or request proof of charitable donation.

Also keep in mind that the process of returning a mattress and buying another one will involve more than a little inconvenience for you. As such, we caution you not to rely too much on the return policy, and to take whatever steps you can to ensure you choose the right mattress the first time.


If you would like to defer payment on your new bed, many stores do offer financing options. Naturally, this adds a step to the process, so if your mattress purchase is urgent, it may be worth calling the store or checking their website in advance to find out specific policies and procedures for that store's credit program.

Warranty Support

Warranties are typically provided by mattress manufacturers and are designed to protect consumers against defects in materials or manufacturing. Mattress stores generally do not offer additional warranties, however they will typically help their customers coordinate with the manufacturer in the event a problem arises that is covered by the warranty.

If you’re buying your mattress from an online retailer, make sure you know how they handle mattress warranty claims. You’ll want to know how you’d proceed if something were to go wrong.

Mattress Store Reviews

Friends and family opinions really don't help much when it comes to choosing a bed because our personal needs are so different. But reviews and recommendations CAN be helpful when it comes to choosing a retailer.

Be aware that mattress chains (like Mattress Firm) are franchises, so you'll want to find specific comments for your location.

GoodBed's mattress store directory is sorted by location, with user reviews and ratings for specific store locations.

The Better Business Bureau is a good place to check for customer service complaints and whether they were resolved. Stores get a BBB rating from A to F based on how responsive the company is to customer issues.

Yelp is a source for hyper-local store reviews. It's worth a check in addition to GoodBed's ratings. Many stores will respond to customers on Yelp, so it's a good way to get a sense for how they treat customers.

Consumer Reports magazine (available only to subscribers) includes ratings of mattress stores, culled from surveys of its subscribers. Ratings are not location-specific, and we don't think that ratings for the entire Nebraska Furniture Mart chain (for example) are as helpful as location-specific reviews. And there are no written reviews here -- just an aggregate score based on an unknown number of owner responses. Note that GoodBed has legitimate criticisms about Consumer Reports' handling of mattress reviews.

Find the Right Bed

Not sure which type of bed to buy? Answer a few questions to see good matches for you with GoodBed's unbiased, personalized results.

Let's start… Select your preferred sleeping position:
This is awesome. Now I feel equipped to walk in somewhere and say with certainty, "This is exactly what I'm looking for."
— Sara in Phoenix, AZ

What size of bed are you looking for?

Not sure? Go to Mattress Size Guide